Bishop Reeves Speaks on Tensions Caused by South African Apartheid

The racial problem in South Africa is not a simple conflict of blacks and whites, but a complex issue containing the tensions of many ethnic groups in a country whose social patterns are rapidly changing, the Rt. Rev. R. Ambrose Reeves declared last night to a packed audience in Burr Hall.

The Rev. Reeves, exiled Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg and an outspoken critic of Apartheid, maintained that "the age of colonialism in South Africa is swiftly coming to an end".

In the last 40 years, he said, the traditional social patterns have begun to change under the impact of the industrial revolution that has swept Africa, bringing thousands of detribalized Africans into the cities and into close contact with vastly differing cultural groups.

The Nationalist government of South Africa solved the problems created by these different ethnic groups coming to live together through the simple expedient of keeping them as far apart as possible. "Verwoerd does not like a scrambled egg population", the Rev. Reeves said; "therefore he is trying to unscramble the eggs".

The effect of Apartheid, he said, has been government discrimination against thousands of non-whites and "an alarming deterioration in race relations". In view of the conditions in South Africa, the lack of violence has been surprising he declared-warning, however, that the Africans cannot continue a policy of passive resistance indefinitely.


He noted the statement of an African leader that the black African demonstrations when a Republic is declared May 29 "will be the last non-violent demonstrations in the near future". The Rev. Reeves did not speculate on the nature of these demonstrations but commented that "it would be the final irony if South Africa had to celebrate their new Republic in a state of martial law".

Education Stified

As an example of Apartheid's stranglehold on South Africa, the Rev. Reeves chose education. In 1954, when six-sevenths of all South African education was in the hands of the Church, the government announced that all schools were to be either nationalized or run without financial aid.

But the Rev. Reeves found a third possibility, closing the doors of his schools to prevent the government from using them. The Africans cried that depriving them of education was like depriving them of bread. The Rev. Reeves replied that his justification "depends on whether the loaf is poisoned".

Today the South African government boasts an increase of 50 per cent in the enrollment of the primary schools, but the Rev. Reeves claimed this was accomplished largely by "degrading the education of black children and cutting the school week in half". "If you cut the school week short enough", he declared, "there is almost no limit to the number of children you can 'educate'".

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